‘Worrying and unacceptable weaknesses in Welsh councils’ auditing’

17 Jan 19

There are “significant weaknesses” in the auditing practices of many Welsh town and community councils, according to a report by the Welsh Auditor General.

Several cases of fraud or theft over the past 10 years “could have been avoided if there were effective internal audit arrangements in place”, a report released by the watchdog today said.

Auditor General Adrian Crompton commented: “Internal audit provides a vital function within organisations – to ensure that checks and balances are in place to safeguard finances and services.

“The fact we have uncovered serious weaknesses at town and community councils is both unacceptable and worrying – and it needs to be urgently addressed.”

Findings of the report included:

  • One in ten councils were unable to satisfy inspectors that they had any internal audit arrangements at all
  • 46% of councils where an audited annual return was received filed inaccurate internal audits
  • One in five (21%) did not have a sufficiently independent auditor (mainly because they were providing additional services such as payroll to the council in addition to the audit).

The report recommended a range of improvements including additional testing and fee charging guidance, annual attendance at one council meeting by an auditor and a requirement for councillors to ensure they receive a copy of the internal auditor’s report.  

Most auditors charge less than 0.5% of the council’s income, although a quarter charge between 1% and 3.5%. Eleven per cent of the auditors did not charge a fee, the Welsh auditor noted.

The Welsh auditor’s report was based on a sample of 113 of Wales’ 735 town and community Councils.

The Welsh auditor general plans to review the audit arrangements for the sector in 2019-20 and this report on internal audit will provide evidence for that review.

Welsh Government to extend financial incentives to trainee teachers

The Welsh Government has announced it will extend financial incentives offered to trainee teachers until the 2019-20 academic year.

Up to £20,000 is offered to student teachers with the aim of attracting the best candidates to teach in priority such as science, maths and moderns languages. Post-graduates and those with first class degrees in all subjects are also able to access higher levels of funding.

A further £5,000 is available to those training to teach in Welsh under Cardiff’s Iaith Athrawon Yfory programme.

Education minister Kirsty Williams said: “These incentives of up to £20,000, with an additional £5,000 available for Welsh-medium teachers, will help recruit the best teachers we can and support them on their career pathway. Maintaining a strong and skilled teaching workforce is essential to achieving our ambitions in our National Mission for Education in Wales.”

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